The ink was barely dry on the lawsuit filed by Lordstown Motors against would-be savior Foxconn when the next round of news hit: the world’s largest ODM/EMS company is pulling out of Wisconsin.
If we go back to 2019, we will recall Lordstown opened the doors of its plant, formerly owned by GM and seen as critical to its hometown’s economic future, to Foxconn, which came bearing (the promise of) much-needed cash. In return, the ODM was to obtain access to Lordstown’s electric vehicle technology, which Foxconn sought as it reportedly focuses on building electronics and other products for what is seen as the future platform for individual and fleet transportation.
That dream ended in a crash, unfortunately but unsurprisingly. The investment never really materialized, Lordstown went bankrupt, and the winners will be the lawyers.
Some 30 miles south of Milwaukee, Foxconn’s much-ballyhooed splash into the Wisconsin cornfields is resolving with the sale of its 315-acre campus to Microsoft.
That’s a far cry from the $10 billion in investment and 13,000 jobs the company forecast — and lots of politicians touted — as longtime homeowners were hit with eminent domain mandates to make way for the 200,000 sq. ft. plant. Some $500 million of taxpayer money later, the prairie landscape is left with a mostly vacant shell. Likewise, company plans to build innovation centers in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire and Racine have mostly been shelved, and the properties are going on the block.
What both deals had in common was that they took place in states that of late are highly contested in federal elections. That’s no surprise: Foreign companies have often (always?) tried to influence the outcome of US elections to suit their strategic interests. (The constraints foreign entities should have on such maneuvers, if any, are for others to decide.)
Experienced bettors know when to fold their cards, however, and Foxconn is well-known for exiting the table when it doesn’t like the stakes. When the trade winds blew cold, the company headed for warmer climes.
So a shout out to Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, among others: If Foxconn comes calling, look hard at the cards before asking for a hit.